What are USPS IMI Compliance Deadlines?

April 10th, 2024 Comments off

USPS is upgrading all postage meters to use a new system called Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI). This will replace the older system, Information Based Indicia (IBI), after 20+ years of use. IMI has more updated technology and has been slowly rolled out over the past 10 years. 

What does this mean, and how do these changes affect your business? Let’s start with the basics. Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) is the technology postage meters use to send information to USPS. Beginning June 30, 2024, any postage meters still using IBI will be decertified. However, USPS will accept postage from decertified meters until December 31, 2024. After this time, your postage meter will require IMI technology to remain in use.  

The good news is, Stamps.com customers don’t need to worry about these changes. We’re dedicated to making this transition as smooth as possible, and there are no changes needed on your end. While no action is necessary, IMI and its benefits are worth understanding. 

Key dates and takeaways 

  • Stamps.com customers don’t need to take any action. 
  • USPS will decertify all postage meters on June 30, 2024. 
  • USPS will no longer accept decertified postage after December 31, 2024. 
  • IBI has been used for over 20+ years, so IMI provides updated technology to postage meters. 

What is Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI)?

Indicia, or Permit Imprint Indicia, is a form of printed postage that takes the place of a traditional stamp or postage meter marking. IBI, like IMI, is a form of printed postage. It was created to provide USPS with more centralized data and heightened security. 

After 20+ years of IBI, USPS has been rolling out IMI over the past decade. IMI is built off of IBI but has more up-to-date technology. To align with their ten-year initiative, USPS will now enforce adoption of IMI for all postage meters.

Will these changes impact my mailing and shipping?

For Stamps.com customers, this change is automatic. Our team is already working to make these changes, and your workflow won’t be interrupted. Additionally, these changes will be implemented by December 30, 2024 to comply with the new regulations. 

If you have any questions about these changes, please contact our Support team via email or phone at 855-608-2677, M-F from 8am-8pm CT. 

How does IMI benefit me?

IMI comes with a few advantages. Some of these include: 

  • Enhanced security 
  • Increased mail efficiency 
  • Automated and streamlined returns

Enhanced security 

IMI provides even more data encryption and fraud protection. Encrypted data prevents your information from being accessed or stolen. Also, increased security checks are more likely to flag fraudulent activity sooner. 

Increased mail efficiency 

IMI lays the groundwork for automating tasks that could otherwise cause delays. Avoiding these delays can lead to faster delivery times and shortened wait times. This new technology also decreases the likelihood of adjustments given to incorrect measurements. 

Automated and efficient returns 

IMI allows for more detailed tracking, so you can track refunds with ease. IMI barcodes also include information like insurance, keeping everything in one place. 

Do I need to update my postage meter?

If you use a postage meter, these changes can be unexpected, expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. You’ll also need to contact your provider about their IMI adoption plan. If you’re a Stamps.com customer, these changes will be made for you. Our NetStamps® postage is up to date and won’t require any updates. We eliminate the need for special equipment, so you can buy and print postage online from anywhere at any time.

Learn more about Stamps.com’s Multi-Location plan.

Categories: USPS News Tags:

2024 USPS Rate and Service Changes

April 11th, 2024 Comments off

Welcome to our United States Postal Service Updates blog, your guide to the changing postal scene. Here, we’ll share the latest news and rate updates from the USPS. Dive in as we break down the 2024 updates. 

January 2024 Service Changes

Stamps.com has been informed of the recent USPS announcement which recommends postage rates increase for select First-Class Mail services on July 14, 2024. We will alert you of these and any other changes as new details become available. At this time, our current postage stamp rate remains at 64 cents.

New Mailing Technology Requirements from USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is implementing a new technology standard called Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) to modernize its mailing system.

What is IMI and why is it required?

IMI replaces the older technology and provides the USPS with more detailed and real-time data on your mailings. This translates to a smoother and more efficient mailing experience for everyone. Upgrading offers several benefits:

  • Reduced costs: Eliminates the need to guesstimate postage, preventing overspending and returns.
  • Improved cash flow: Detailed transaction data makes it easier to track refunds and reimbursements.
  • Always up-to-date: Your system automatically receives the latest postage rates and service information.
  • Enhanced security: Robust security features protect your data.
  • Increased efficiency: IMI streamlines mail processing for the USPS, potentially leading to faster deliveries.

What does this mean for you?

The good news is, you don’t need to take any action. Stamps is already working diligently behind the scenes to ensure our technology is fully compliant with IMI by December 2024.  As an approved USPS partner, we’ll make sure your mailing operation continues to run smoothly without interruption.

January 2024 Service Changes

Effective January 21st, the USPS is rolling out changes to its shipping rates, which will impact various services and package categories. Stamps remains committed to delivering top-notch service to its customers and is happy to announce that, through our partnership with USPS, customers can now enjoy enhanced discounts on Priority Mail® and Ground Advantage Rates™ compared to Commercial Plus rates.

Here’s an overview of the modifications and how they might impact your shipping and mailing strategies.

Ground Advantage™

  • Ground Advantage™ under 1 pound: Up to 6.6% off
  • Ground Advantage™ over 1 pound: Up to 25.1% off
  • Ground Advantage™ Cubic: Up to 21.2% off

As a reminder, Ground Advantage™ was introduced in July of 2023. This service combines USPS Retail Ground, USPS Parcel Select Ground, and USPS First Class Package Services. The January 21st changes will apply to all weights, zones, and cubic dimensions over 12 ounces using Ground Advantage™.

Priority Mail®

  • Priority Mail 6-10 pounds: Up to 12% off
  • Priority Mail Flat Rate: Up to 2.5% off
  • Priority Mail Cubic: Up to 15.8% off

So where will you see the biggest changes? The short answer: it depends. Exact rates will vary depending on the package details and how far it’s traveling. As always, we recommend comparing rates and services to find the best option for your business. 

Mailing Services

The cost of sending a 1 oz. First Class Mail letter will increase from 66 cents to 68 cents. However, if you use Stamps.com, the Metered Mail rate for the same letter will only go up from 63 cents to 64 cents, saving you $0.04 compared to the retail rate.

USPS Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Label Changes

While the primary focus of this rate adjustment is on shipping rates, it’s crucial to be aware of unrelated changes to HAZMAT labels. Starting January 21st, USPS is enhancing safety measures for handling dangerous goods shipments. The HAZMAT labels will now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner, the addition of 2D barcodes, and the inclusion of the word “HAZMAT” after “USPS TRACKING #.” Shippers need not take any specific action other than selecting hazardous goods under special services when printing a label when a shipment contains hazardous materials. For more information check out our HAZMAT updates blogs.

Insurance Rate Updates

In addition to the rate adjustments, Stamps.com users should be aware of an increase in their insurance rates. However, depending on your service plan, you could enjoy discounts ranging from 10% to 40% compared to USPS insurance rates.

Enhance Your Efficiency

Despite these changes, Stamps.com continues to offer substantial savings on shipping costs, with discounts of up to 89%* through its partnership with USPS and other carriers. We aim to streamline your shipping and mailing operations, providing discounted rates for a smooth sending process.

As the shipping landscape evolves, staying informed about rate changes and adjusting your strategy accordingly can contribute to a more efficient and cost-effective shipping experience. Keep these insights in mind as you navigate the 2024 USPS shipping rate adjustments. For more information check out our help center article.

*Rates are limited to shipping from the continental U.S. only. These rates and discounts exclude shipment origins from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.

How to Find a Lost USPS Letter or Package

July 10th, 2023 Comments off

Shipments can sometimes be lost during transit, including orders to your customers. How do you help customers who are reaching out for assistance? USPS provides resources to try to locate missing mail and packages, and the USPS Mail Recovery Center serves as the hub for lost items. We also have tips to prevent packages from going missing in the first place. If you’re feeling lost about lost packages, you’ve found the right blog. 

Tips to prevent lost packages

  • Confirm the address before sending, especially for communal living spaces 
  • Purchase additional insurance for high-cost items like jewelry or electronics
  • Enable tracking notifications so customers know when their package will arrive
  • Include labels on the inner packaging in case the outer label is damaged or illegible
  • Label your package clearly and legibly and use tape to cover the label to avoid damage

USPS Mail Recovery Center

As we mentioned earlier, the USPS Mail Recovery Center acts as a centralized location for lost mail and packages. All packages and mail are examined upon arrival. If packages or envelopes are deemed valuable (over $25 in merchandise or over $20 in cash), they will be opened by USPS personnel to try to reunite the items with their sender or recipient. Mail with a barcode will be kept for 60 days, and mail without a barcode will be kept for 30 days. After this time frame, items will be donated, thrown away or recycled, or auctioned off.

Steps to search for missing mail 

USPS offers free resources to try to track down missing mail and packages. The first step is to track your package, followed by submitting a couple of different forms. This process is designed to give USPS detailed information about your package to hopefully increase the chance of it being found. 

Track your package 

The first step is to track your package. It might seem straightforward, but checking the tracking details of your shipment might show where/if the package was disrupted in transit. The tracking information will also show delays or if a package is being held at the post office for pickup. We recommend taking screenshots or writing down the tracking information shown because USPS may ask for this information later on. 

Complete the missing mail search form 

If entering the tracking information doesn’t provide answers, fill out a missing mail search form. This form will ask for your shipment’s tracking number, carrier service, and other attributes. Be as specific as possible and answer as many questions as you can. 

Fill out a missing mail search request

After tracking your shipment and completing the missing mail search form, wait seven business days. If your package still hasn’t reached its destination, you’ll fill out a missing mail search request. USPS does require you to create an account to access the form, but account creation is free. The missing mail request will ask questions about the contents of your package as well as the packaging used and any identifying details. USPS also recommends sending pictures of your shipment if possible. 

Additional steps for missing mail 

Once you’ve submitted a missing mail search request, check for a confirmation email from USPS; updates will also be sent via email. Recovered mail will be sent to its destination. However, if a package is deemed unsafe, it won’t be eligible to move forward in transit. It’s also important to note that some packages are unable to be found. 

If your package is unable to be recovered or you used a guaranteed service and/or a service with included insurance, you can: 

Shipping insurance 

Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express® each include $100 of insurance for eligible shipments. This insurance doesn’t come with an additional cost and is a benefit of using the services. If your package is lost or damaged, you can send a claim to USPS for potential reimbursement. To file a claim with USPS, you’ll need to create a free account. Additionally, confirm your claim is being filed within the following timeframes: 

  • Priority Mail Express®: Between 7-60 days*
  • Priority Mail COD: 15-60 days* 
  • Priority Mail®: 15-60 days* 

*Note: Claims should be filed before 60 days. 

Lastly, collect all of the documentation listed by USPS before submitting your claim. This way, you can fill out your claim and help prevent having to resubmit information. If you’re filing a claim for a customer, let them know to keep all of the packaging and information they have until USPS resolves your claim. USPS outlines the documentation needed to file a claim we’ve included below, and additional information can be found on their website.* 

*Note: This information is directly from the USPS website, so we recommend reaching out to USPS with any questions. 

Tracking or Label Number

  • The tracking or label number is found on your online label record, package label, mailing receipt, or sales receipt. Tracking and label numbers are between 13 and 34 characters.

Evidence of Insurance Purchased

  • Any of these items show evidence of insurance:
  • Original mailing receipt issued at the time of mailing
  • Outer packaging showing the names and addresses of the sender and the addressee and the proper label showing that the article was sent insured
  • Printed electronic online label record or computer printout from the application used to print the label and purchase the insurance

NOTE: USPS may not legally pay compensation for uninsured lost or damaged articles. If your uninsured mail is missing or delayed you may request a Missing Mail Search.

Proof of Value

Proof of value is the cost or value of an item when it was mailed. Any of these can be used to show proof of value:

  • Sales receipt
  • Paid invoice or paid bill of sale
  • Statement of value and/or estimates of repair costs from a reputable dealer
  • Credit card billing statement
  • Receipt of costs incurred for reconstruction of non-negotiable documents
  • Printouts of the online transaction identifying the purchaser and seller, price paid, date of transaction, description of item purchased, and assurance that the transaction status is completed

Proof of Damage

Photos that clearly show the extent of damage will help with your case. For damaged claims, you’ll also need to provide an estimate of the repair costs from a reputable dealer.

  • Save the original packaging and everything in the package until your claim is settled.
  • Do not throw out damaged items, even after you photograph them.
  • Do not reship items that were not damaged. Save them with the damaged items.
  • You may be asked to take the entire package to your local Post Office™ facility for inspection.

How to add delivery confirmation in Stamps.com 

Another way to decrease the risk of lost packages is with delivery confirmation. Delivery confirmation comes at no additional cost when using Priority Mail®. This feature provides information about the time, date, and zip code of when the package was signed for. Also, delivery confirmation will show a delivery attempt if your package couldn’t be delivered. 

To add delivery confirmation on Stamps.com Online: 

Select the Tracking drop-down menu under the Mail Tab of your dashboard and click Signature Required. 

To use delivery confirmation with Stamps.com PC Software: 

Once you select the mail class for your package, go to the Packages Tab on your dashboard. For shipments using Priority Mail Express®, click the Delivery Options button and select Signature Required. 

If you’re using another service, select the Tracking drop down menu and then click Signature Confirmation.

Delivery confirmation information is available for up to a year after the delivery date. You can receive a copy of your recipient’s address by calling USPS at 1-800-222-1811 on Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM ET. Signatures can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to you directly. Mail requests are sent through First-Class Mail® and are usually delivered within 2-3 business days. Fax requests are typically completed within two hours and can be received 24/7. 

Start your 30-day free trial with Stamps.com.

USPS HAZMAT Label Update 2024

January 11th, 2024 Comments off

Starting January 21st, USPS is enhancing safety measures for handling dangerous goods shipments. The HAZMAT labels will now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner, the addition of 2D barcodes, and the inclusion of the word “HAZMAT” after “USPS TRACKING #.” Shippers need not take any specific action other than selecting hazardous goods under special services when printing a label when a shipment contains hazardous materials. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the upcoming changes as well as some reminders for shipping hazardous materials. 

What is HAZMAT?

According to USPS, hazardous materials, or HAZMAT, are “any matter having a clear potential for causing harm to the mail, persons, or property involved in moving the mail.” This classification is at the discretion of USPS and does include items like camp stoves, chainsaws, and other items that use fuel. For more tips on packaging USPS HAZMAT shipments, visit the USPS website to utilize their HAZMAT Search Tool

HAZMAT label changes 

For the first change, HAZMAT labels will now feature two 2D IMpd™ barcodes. The new barcodes contain the same information as the existing IMpb barcodes and will help optimize processing automation and minimize distortion, printer errors, and increase the ability for labels to be scanned. The barcode banner text will also now read: USPS TRACKING # HAZMAT. This increase in visibility will improve the shipping experience for both you and your customers. The HAZMAT labels will also now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner.

The second change will include new Dangerous Goods Service Type Codes, or STCs, and new IMpd label banner text. STCs are numeric codes that identify a package’s mail classification and characteristics. This way, packages can be handled appropriately as they move through transit. 

No action is needed 

All merchants using Stamps.com won’t need to add any new steps to their shipping workflow; labels created for hazardous materials will automatically include the new format. You can declare special contents for shipments containing hazardous materials through the steps found below and in our Learning Center. 

Stamps.com Online 

  1. Locate the Mail Tab on your dashboard and select Extra Services.
  2. Click on the Handling drop down menu and choose which Special Contents apply to your shipment. 
  3. Save your selection.
  4. After clicking save, the Special Contents Warning page will appear. Agree to the terms shown. This window will then close. 
  5. Exit the Extra Services page.

Stamps.com PC Software 

  1. Select Add’l Options from the Package tab.
  2. Find the Handling drop down menu and choose which Special Contents apply to your shipment. 
  3. After the Special Contents Warning window opens, agree to the terms given. 
  4. Click Okay. 
  5. Exit the Additonal Services window.

Start your 30-day free trial with Stamps.com today. 

Resources

HAZMAT Search Tool

USPS HAZMAT guidelines and restrictions 

USPS TV’s Guide to Mailing Hazardous Materials 

Categories: USPS News Tags:

How to Get a Refund for Late Delivery on Priority Mail Express

April 4th, 2023 Comments off
Refund for PME Blog

We’ve all been in a position where we need something shipped in a rush, whether it be a forgotten birthday gift or a last-minute holiday present. This includes your customers. There will be times customers might ask for expedited shipping on an order, so it can arrive in time for a special occasion. Priority Mail Express® is a great carrier service for customers in need of expedited delivery. Plus, Priority Mail Express® includes a guaranteed delivery date, so you can request a refund if your package doesn’t arrive within the given delivery window. 

Features of Priority Mail Express® 

Priority Mail Express® includes: 

  • A next-day to 2-day delivery guarantee (by 6PM)
  • Flat rate packaging options and free supplies from USPS 
  • Tracking throughout your shipment’s entire transit 
  • Up to $100 worth of shipment insurance included 
  • The option for holiday and Sunday delivery for an extra cost 

Additionally, Priority Mail Express® includes a money-back guarantee. However, it’s worth noting that Priority Mail Express® refund requests do take other factors into consideration like the recipient’s zip code and when your package was dropped off. USPS provides a free Service Commitments tool, so you can see which services are guaranteed as well as estimated delivery dates for each available USPS service. More information about Priority Mail Express® refund requests can be found on the USPS website. 

Priority Mail Express® refunds 

If your Priority Mail Express® shipment doesn’t arrive on time and meets USPS requirements, you can request a refund for the shipping costs of your package. Refund requests can be submitted through the USPS website, and you’ll need to create a free account to start the process.   

Priority Mail Express® refunds need to be submitted within 2-30 days of the date the package was mailed*, and you’ll need the receipt and tracking number to successfully submit the request. You can find your postage receipt through these steps: 

  • Login to Stamps.com 
  • Click on the History tab on your dashboard 
  • Select Search Print History 
  • Locate the tracking number for the order you’re requesting the refund for 
  • Click on the info box (i) next to the tracking number 
  • Print the physical copy of your receipt*

*Note: For those using the Stamps.com software, you’ll first click Search on the left-hand side of your screen and then click the info box next to the correct tracking number to generate your receipt. 

Priority Mail Express International® refunds 

Like Priority Mail Express®, certain Priority Mail Express International® are eligible for refund requests. One of the biggest differences between the two is that refund requests for Priority Mail Express International® shipments can only be submitted for the following countries: 

Image courtesy of USPS

Priority Mail Express International® shipments will also need to be filed with USPS directly through their website and must be submitted within 3-90 days of when your package was shipped.  

Conclusion 

Priority Mail Express® gives customers an expedited shipping option, so their packages can arrive quickly. Also, the option to request a refund for eligible shipments provides a safeguard for your business if the package arrives late. If you’re an international shipper, Priority Mail Express International® can be offered to your customers as an expedited option and includes a similar refund request option for eligible packages. Help your customers receive their packages in the nick of time with Priority Mail Express® and Priority Mail Express International ®.  

Start your 30-day free trial with Stamps.com today.

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